The True Sign That You’re a “Real” Professional

You’re laying down on the operation table, and the surgeon walks in and says to the nurse, “I’m having a bad day today…” Then, the surgeon puts her glove to perform surgery on you.

Do you say to yourself, “It’s okay if the surgeon does a poor job (or an average job) because she’s having a bad day”? No, of course not. You expect the surgeon to be professional and give her 110% when she cuts you open.

It doesn’t matter that the surgeon is having a hard time at home or that someone bumped her car on her way to work. At the moment when she going to perform her duty—the surgery—you expect her to perform with excellence; she’s a professional, after all.

Let’s say that instead of being on the surgery table, you’re at the dentist, and the dentist says the same thing, “I’m having a bad day…” Does it change your expectation? Is it okay for the dentist to do an average job on your teeth? I doubt.

If the dentist extracts the wrong tooth “by accident”, I doubt you would say, “I understand Mr. Dentist; everyone has bad days. I’ll come back next week, and you can extract the right tooth then. Hopefully, by then, things will be better in your life.” If the dentist extracted the wrong tooth, you’d be out of yourself. Why? You expect Mr. Dentist to be professional, and thus, to do his work with excellence.

Let’s say that the person who is having a bad day is a taxi driver. If, while driving you, the taxi driver is yelling and having a heated argument on their smartphone and ends up dropping you at the wrong location, do you say, “I understand; you’re having a bad day… Here’s your $25, I’ll walk the other 30 minutes or grab another taxi…” Of course not… You expect excellence.

One last example (for the sports fans). Do you care that players from your favorite sports team—be it baseball, hockey, basketball, football, soccer, etc.—had a bad day at home before the game? You don’t. When they get on the field, you expect them to perform—and perform with excellence. They are professionals, and thus, should give their 110% no matter what.

Whatever your field of expertise, it’s no different: excellence is the expectation. Whether you’re clerk in an office, a call center agent, a plumber, a manager, a COE of fortune 500, excellence is the expectation.

There are many ways to cultivate a spirit of excellence in your work and life. Here are 3 ways.

1. Go The Extra Mile

Always seek to overdeliver: give more than expected. Give 110%.

Too many people settle for the passing grade. They give 60% on the job, in their relationships, to their children, etc. And they think they are doing their employer (or partner or children or…) a favor for anything they give above 60%. You wouldn’t want to be at the mercy of a 60% surgeon or dentist, just as much as you don’t want to be in a relationship with a 60% partner (whatever that means). Go the extra mile.

2. Never Stop Growing

Excellence is a mindset that pushes you to always seek to improve your “game”. Even the best of us have to remain on the path of growth.

Many people, once they leave school, stop learning. Thinking that they have arrived, they stop stretching and exposing themselves to new ideas and experiences. Don’t be one of them. Never stop sharpening your skills and expanding your knowledge in your field of expertise (and beyond). Set aside time for your development; in the end, it’s your responsibility; no one else’s.

3. Seek People of Excellence

The people in your circle inevitably rub on you. When you surround yourself with people of excellence, you’re motivated to bring your “A” game. For starters, they don’t tolerate mediocrity. But also, simply seeing them push and strive to be better inspires you to do the same.

Conversely, mediocre people will drag you down; stay away from them.

The true sign of “real” professionals is the excellence they bring to their craft. They give their best and nothing less.